Furthermore, his band later became the Hot Seven. Louis Armstrong was able to pave a new road for jazz; transforming it from an ensemble to more of a soloist’s art. Solos and improvisation play crucial roles in jazz as it allows musicians to freely express themselves through their various play style. In addition, improvisation is also what would later define a jazz musician. Louis Armstrong was not only able to alter jazz, but additionally, introduced the concept of scat singing.
A single artist can have a very strong impact on a whole genre of Music. We have seen this time and time again through artists such as Charlie Parker, David Brubeck, John Coltrane, Art Blakey, Miles Davis, and various others. All of these artists had tremendous influences on the different eras that evolved throughout the history of Jazz. Bill Evans, and American jazz pianist, was no different. Just as Charlie Parker had started the evolution of Bebop and influenced the subsequent generations of Jazz Artists, Bill Evans has influenced Modern Jazz and the generations of artists that followed him.
The popularity of jazz in America is attributed to the various styles, which are indicative of specific time periods. Jazz has been popular since around the late 1800s. Ragtime was the first form of jazz. It was developed in the 1890s in Louisiana (Jazz Styles 2000). Jazz is said to be the fundamental rhythms of human life and man's contemporary reassessment of his traditional values.
The first true virtuoso soloist of jazz, Louie Armstrong was a dazzling improviser, technically, emotionally, and intellectually. Armstrong, often called the "father of jazz," always spoke with deference, bordering on awe, of his musical roots, and with especial devotion of his mentor Joe Oliver. He changed the format of jazz by bringing the soloist to the forefront, and in his recording groups, the Hot Five and the Hot seven, demonstrated that jazz improvisation could go far beyond simply ornamenting the melody. Armstrong was one of the first jazz musicians to refine a rhythmic conception that abandoned the stiffness of ragtime, employed swing light-note patterns, and he used a technique called "rhythmic displacement." Rhythmic displacement was sometimes staggering the placement of an entire phrase, as though he were playing behind the beat.
A Brief History of Piano Greats and Jazz The piano has been a pivotal instrument throughout the development of jazz music. Starting with ragtime, which developed out of classical music, all the way to modern jazz the piano has been a foundational instrument upon which many styles have been built. This is a result of the versatility of the instrument, as it has the ability to play accompaniment, rhythm, and solo improvisation simultaneously. Throughout the course of jazz history many musicians have utilized the piano to develop new and unique styles. These great musicians used influences from all sources to develop these new genres of jazz and are renowned for their ability still today.
Stan Kenton: Progressive Concepts in Jazz Stanley Newcomb Kenton is one of the most influential figures to be found in all of jazz history, even being called "the most significant figure of the Modern Jazz age" by Frank Sinatra (Agostinelli, 6). Kenton's progressive concepts of how music is written and performed greatly affected the genre of jazz, and created something new and unique. Always under controversy, Kenton and his band always strove to do something different, never settling into a niche for long periods of time. Even today, when hearing modern jazz performers (particularly big bands) one can often hear the influence from Kenton's music. Kenton was born in Wichita, Kansas on December 11, 1911, although he spent most of his youth in the Los Angeles area.
Bebop is one of the most artistic styles of jazz music. Bebop gradually developed during the 1940’s. Bebop focused more on the freedom of creativity rather than rhythmic aspects. According to The Bop Era, it also gave soloists more room for “innovative improvisation” (Glass). Through the works of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and other players we will discover how Bebop became such a prominent style during this era.
Armstrong’s music was sophisticated, virtuosic, and emotionally expressive. As a soloist, he was able to test his creative instrumental abilities, well establishing his musical identity. Armstrong stands out from the rest of the Jazz musicians in that he has “superior choice of notes and shape of his lines, incomparable basic quality of tone, incomparable sense of swing, and the subtly varied repertory of vibratos and shakes he embellishes individual notes.” During its early days, jazz was seen as a “forward-looking art, incorporating new techniques, more expansive harmonies and melodies” ( Otherbook).
Bop groups were much smaller than swing bands and included improvised solos, rhythmic complexity, and unpredictable forms. It was a bit of a revolution for jazz. There were several individuals who played key roles in the bebop and progressive jazz era. Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie are just a few of the top jazz artist of the decade. Dizzy Gillespie, who was born in South Carolina in 1917, had an amazing talent, and by the age of 20 he was already touring with major bands.
Davis was not only influenced by the music of his contemporaries but was also inspired by the music of classical composers and of other genres by which his fellow quintet member, Bill Evans, introduced to him. The collaboration of Davis and his white pianist sparked great interest by both the public and academics. This partnership crossed many racial boundaries that many musicians were unable to cross. The influence of the European classical genre and collaboration with a white musician brought into question the cultural capital of jazz music as well as the race associated with it. Jazz music transitioned into a music genre of its own prestige and not simply the voice of the ongoing struggle for the civil rights of black people in the United States.